Ok, this is not really an open letter to him, but more to America who is reacting to the news that a Muslim kid built a clock in a suitcase, took it to his school to show it off to his teachers, was arrested as a result for a fake bomb hoax, and has now been invited to the White House. Above is an actual picture of it, keep it in mind throughout this article. It might surprise you, but I actually spent the past 13 years of my life working with youth in the area of residential treatment, foster care, and adoption. I know for a fact that kids who endure the most miserable of experiences and have troubled behaviors are capable of unsurpassed greatness. That being said, I also know if you are under the age of 18 you have the remarkable ability to be surprisingly ignorant and to be quite honest, a little stupid. And now thanks to such behavior, the entire nation is embroiled in a riveting debate when it should just be saying, huh, kids these days.
Yes, much of America is deriding the Texas school and police for stereotyping a Muslim kid who built a clock in a suitcase. To which I just want to reply, slow down America. Granted this Muslim kid who is 14 years old may have never seen it, but I think most of America with a sense of humor has seen the movie Airplane and the epic suitcase bomb on the plane. But I can go more recent. Below you will see the suitcase bomb from Die Hard with a Vengeance. Great movie. I could show you the one from the Untouchables, an episode of 24, or perhaps a Russian nuclear suitcase bomb that is pretty much fact. So while America is subject to stereotypes, why are we ignoring that the one that says bombs often come in suitcases and they usually have a clock.
To be quite honest, this kid is fortunate that he decided to impress his teacher and not his local EOD veteran. Because if that kid, or any kid, shows up at my door and opens that suitcase, I am kicking him hard in the chest like he is Straight Outta Sparta. Clocks hardwired to suitcases look like bombs and it might only be the EOD guy that could quickly tell otherwise at first glance. If a man dressed in a Dark Knight outfit dropped into an alleyway, you would probably say, “what’s up batman?” And if a human being shows you a suitcase hardwired to a clock, you are going to call it a bomb. I’m not trying to be a jerk my 14 year old Ahmed, but bro, it kind of looks like a bomb. Get over it America.
It is a Muslim Kid
I am assuming this is why Barrack Obama has invited him to the White House. He is a Muslim kid, subject to the paranoia of America and thus, we need to reassure him that all is ok from the President of the United States. Meanwhile, I am all like, this kid is 14 and he is either really stupid or not. I am guessing not. Again, I worked with kids for as long as this kid has been alive and while they will act remarkably stupid at times, they are not so much. Yes Mr. President, we need more kids involved in Science and Engineering. But we needn’t reward poor judgement along the way. So Mr. President, when you meet with him, slap him on the back, congratulate him on his engineering and then suggest to him that he perhaps not put it in a suitcase next time. It can be that simple.
I grew up white in the South. I liked to bring things to show and tell. After all, who doesn’t like to impress the teachers and his peers. However, I was well aware of stereotypes long before age 14. If I had invented a rainproof winterized white mask with a pointy tip, my common sense would have told me that something is not right. Perhaps I was into fashion and weatherproofed gear, but I knew well before 14 what such a sight would resemble and I can’t think of a possible scenario where I thought that would have been ok.
This kid grew up in the age of 9-11 and was in fact 14 years old exactly. He seems like a smart enough kid. If this kid is smart enough to build a clock from scratch, there is no part of me that thinks this kid missed the association between a hardwired clock in a suitcase and his ethnicity. Oh, “how wrong of you”, you scream. Well, would I let my son bring his weatherized pointy hat and robe to school? No, I most certainly would not no matter how much he is in to fashion. Where was this kid’s parents? Are they truly that oblivious? If Hollywood has taught the American psyche anything it is that bombs come in suitcases, when in reality they do not. I am not saying the stereotypes are correct people, I am just saying I don’t buy the fact that a 14 year old Muslim kid completely missed the reference. America is trying to wrestle with some deep issues about this stuff right now. You are not helping kid, not helping at all.
Ladies and gentlemen of America, we live in an age where an elementary kid can be expelled for sexual harassment for kissing a girl on the check. We live in an age where a kid can wear a shirt with a gun on it and get suspended for threatening his peers. We in fact live in an age where many schools are banning the American flag for fear it be offensive. So yes, we live in an age, where if you bring a clock wired to a suitcase you might get arrested for making a bomb threat. Regardless of race, but yes, go ahead and suck it up and admit the mental image that pops in your head with ethnicity and religion. You don’t have to like it, but spare me the pleasantries. I don’t think the cops should have arrested him after investigation as they realized it wasn’t a bomb. That seems a bit much. But I can’t get over the poor judgement, even for a 14 year old. I equally distrust the white kid who wants to show me his pipe shaped ball bearing holder.
If a Muslim guy yells Allahu Akhbar on a plane, you are going to poop your enlightened pants. You might not tell anyone, but a stereotypical stank is still stereotypical and we all suffer from it. I don’t think the teacher or the cops are racist any more than I think this kid is a terrorist. I think he is a 14 year old kid who knew full well what he was doing because kids are stupid like that. Then I think the teacher and officials were reacting to it the same way you would on a plane no matter how much the youthful inventor tried to assure you he was trying to impress you with his engineering. We can’t keep getting dragged into racial, religious, and cultural debates every time someone does something stupid. Calm down America, a 14 year old male in America did something silly. It is not a national crisis, it is just MTV. Remind me to tell you about my friend who wore a T-Shirt emblazoned, “Irish Republican Army” to hear a speech by Margaret Thatcher. Stupid is as stupid does, but stupid does a lot before the age of 18.
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